Iowa Cubs Announce Preliminary Roster
From the Iowa Cubs Media Team:
DES MOINES – The Iowa Cubs, in conjunction with the Chicago Cubs, have announced their 2017 preliminary roster. The group features 15 pitchers, four infielders, four outfielders and four catchers. Sixteen are familiar to the Iowa Cubs, while 11 will put on the I-Cubs’ uniform for the first time. Iowa’s official roster will be set prior to the first game on April 6.
Led by 22-year-old infielder Ian Happ (2), the I-Cubs will start the season with eight Cubs top prospects, as rated by Baseball America. Included in this collection are OF Mark Zagunis (6), INF Jeimer Candelario (7), LHP Rob Zastryzny (14), RHP Pierce Johnson (19), INF Chesny Young (16), C Victor Caratini (17) and LHP Jack Leathersich (27). RHP Alec Mills was also recognized as the Royals’ No. 22 prospect prior to a February trade to the Cubs.
Earning his first invite to spring training this season, Happ thrived in the Cactus League, hitting .383 (23-for-60) with five home runs and a league-leading 21 RBI. He split his 2016 campaign between Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee, batting a combined .279 with 15 home runs. He will make his first appearance at the Triple-A level with Iowa.
Zagunis spent the latter part of 2016 with Iowa, hitting .274 with six home runs through 50 games. He was sidelined in late July with a broken toe and missed the remainder of the season. Candelario was promoted from Tennessee to Iowa on the same day as Zagunis last season (June 8), and, similar to his teammate, adjusted quickly in his rookie Triple-A campaign. The third baseman hit .333 with 54 RBI through 76 games, while also making his major league debut in July.
Zastryzny was the Cinderella story last season, rising from Double-A, through Iowa, to his major league debut and a NLCS roster spot over the course of the year. He finished the season with a 1.13 ERA (2ER/16.0IP) through his first eight big league games.
Johnson spent the entirety of 2016 with Iowa, though his season was disrupted by three trips to the disabled list. A career starter, Johnson struggled early in the year and was eventually moved to the bullpen in the second half of the season. The righty took the transition in stride, going 3-0 with a 3.22 ERA in 11 relief outings.
Young and Caratini will both make their Iowa Cubs debuts in 2017. The pair were teammates in Tennessee last season and earned promotions after stellar campaigns. Caratini caught 26 percent (26/74) potential base stealers from behind the dish and finished fifth in the Southern League with a .291 average in 2016. Young led the league with a .376 on-base percentage, while finishing second with a .303 batting average.
Leathersich made a brief stop in Iowa to finish the 2016 campaign as he was working back from Tommy John surgery. The 26-year-old allowed no earned runs in 5.0 innings with the I-Cubs.
Mills is the only Cubs’ newcomer to scratch the top-prospect ranks. The righty was acquired from Kansas City in a trade for outfielder Donnie Dewees in February. Mills went 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) for Triple-A Omaha last season and also made his major league debut with the Royals.
Also returning to the Iowa Cubs this season are outfielders John Andreoli and Bijan Rademacher; infielder Stephen Bruno; catcher Taylor Davis; and pitchers Jake Buchanan, Aaron Brooks, Felix Pena, Jose Rosario, Ryan Williams, Miguel Mejia and Zac Rosscup.
Andreoli has been a mainstay in Iowa since 2015 and makes his third Opening Day roster with the I-Cubs. He is coming off a breakout spring as he suited up for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, going 6-for19 with three home runs and seven RBI in the tournament. Andreoli holds a career .265 average through 246 games with the I-Cubs. Last season, he paced the PCL in games (140) and stolen bases (43).
Iowa fan favorite Davis also makes the Opening Day roster and returns for his third season with the I-Cubs. Davis was sidelined for a month last season due to a wrist injury, though he managed a .264 average with 30 RBI through 88 games across three minor league levels. He was a non-roster invitee to Cubs Spring Training for the second straight year.
Bruno and Brooks each served brief stints in Des Moines last season. Brooks spent a month with the I-Cubs on a rehab assignment in recovery from a hip contusion. He otherwise, was out of action for the season. Bruno logged seven games with Iowa in his first Triple-A stay.
Buchanan paced the Iowa Cubs with 15 quality starts in 2016 and set a career minor league mark with 12 wins. He earned a September call up to Chicago and went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA through two games (one start).
Pena made both his Triple-A and his major league debuts in 2016. He began the year with a 3-4 record and a 3.41 ERA through 36 games with Iowa. Pena’s contract was selected by Chicago on August 19 to place him on a major league roster for the first time in his career. He finished the season with Chicago and notched a 4.00 ERA through 11 games (9.0IP).
Williams gets back to the starting rotation after a shoulder injury in May of 2016 ended his season prematurely. Williams was the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and is 20-5 with a 2.29 ERA through 46 career minor league games (33 starts).
Rosario came back strong in 2016, following a season off due to Tommy John surgery. The righty appeared at three levels in the Cubs’ organization, spending the last two months of the season in Des Moines. Through 22 games with Iowa, Rosario posted a 1-1 record and a 2.95 ERA.
Last season, Mejia appeared in affiliated ball for the first time since 2011 and shuttled between Iowa and Tennessee throughout the year. In March, Mejia played for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and helped his country to a 9-3 win over Italy in the first round with a scoreless inning pitched.
Rosscup appeared in 61 games for Chicago between 2013-2015, but was out of commission in 2016 due to a shoulder injury. The lefty has notched 49 games with the Iowa Cubs throughout his career and claims a 2.39 ERA with 75 strikeouts over 49.0 innings.
The remaining seven on Iowa’s preliminary roster are new to both Iowa and the Cubs’ organization. Eddie Butler, acquired in a trade from the Rockies, split 2015-16 between Triple-A Albuquerque and Colorado. Last season, the righty went 8-3 with a 4.45 ERA in 15 starts for the Isotopes.
RHP Dylan Floro was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay. Floro scratched the big leagues for the first time with the Rays in 2016, appearing in 12 games and posting a 4.20 ERA. He spent the balance of the season with Triple-A Durham, going 1-2 with a 2.88 clip.
Seth Frankoff is another addition to the I-Cubs’ bullpen. The 6-5 righty spent six weeks on the disabled list in 2016, while splitting the remainder of the season between Triple-A Oklahoma City and Double-A Tulsa. He combined for a 4-4 record and a 2.69 ERA through 28 games and nine starts.
LHP David Rollins had a roller coaster off-season, getting claimed off waivers five times – including twice by the Cubs. Rollins went 5-0 with a 3.77 mark with Triple-A Tacoma in 2016, while tallying 11 games with Seattle and managing a 7.71 ERA.
Veteran catcher Carlos Corporan joins the ranks as one of four catchers on Iowa’s roster. Corporan has appeared in parts of six seasons in the big leagues with Milwaukee, Texas and Houston. He owns a .218 career major league batting average in 232 games. The Cubs signed Corporan to a minor league contract in January. Ali Solis will share catching duties with Corporan. The 29-year-old split his 2016 season between Double-A and Triple-A in the Red Sox’ organization.
OF Todd Glaesmann rounds out the group of Cubs’ newcomers. Glaesmann voluntarily retired from baseball prior to the 2014 season, only to come back months later. He had spent his career in the Rays and Diamondbacks organizations before joining the Cubs on a minor league deal.
Iowa opens the 2017 season Thursday at Oklahoma City. Catch all the action on AM 940 or stream the broadcast for free through www.iowacubs.com. The team begins its’ home campaign on Tuesday, April 11 at 6:38 p.m. against the New Orleans Baby Cakes. The homestand runs through April 17 and features a “W” t-shirt giveaway and fireworks on April 11, and magnet schedule giveaways April 12-17.